A great first impression is essential for entrepreneurs to gain trust and bring in new business. Without one, potential clients may decide that you’re not competent or reliable enough to care for them. Two traits, trustworthiness and confidence, account for 80 to 90 percent of first impressions. Fixing a bad first impression is much more difficult than correcting other relationship mistakes, according to a study at Ohio State University. Here are some easy ways to avoid that problem by making a good impression on clients.
Always dress for your clients’ comfort, not your own. Most of the time, that means you should wear a suit. In more creative industries, it’s usually okay to dress more casually and show more of your personal style. However, being overdressed is always better than being underdressed. Many department stores offer free personal shoppers. Take advantage of this service to help you choose clothing and accessories that look great on you.
Be Aware of Body Language and Speech
Most cultures value a firm, but not too firm, handshake. Stand up straight, smile, and make eye contact while shaking. If you’re talking to a group, make sure to speak clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear. Avoid unnecessary pauses and other signs of nervousness, like fiddling with a pen or your keys.
Preparing for an important client meeting reduces anxiety and increases confidence. Visit the company website to learn everything you can about the potential client and current events in their industry. Find out who will attend the meeting, and then research their background and interests. That way, you’ll easily find something in common with the client and you’ll seem interesting, likable, and knowledgeable.
Ask questions and avoid interrupting people or finishing their sentences. Many clients are looking for someone who will ask them what they want instead of telling them what they need. Don’t start your pitch until you understand the needs of the customer. That way, you can focus on products and services that will appeal to the client most.
When a client speaks, make eye contact to show that you’re fully engaged. According to the British Psychological Society, people who make more eye contact also look more intelligent. Just don’t overdo it, or you might seem creepy.
Make Your Message Memorable
Business cards, T-shirts, and even vinyl banners that include your business’s name and logo add to your credibility and legitimacy. They’re also a great way to advertize. You can design unique, memorable business cards, banners, and T-shirts. Vinyl banners from Printastic.com are durable enough for outdoor use, and they range from two to 50 feet long. Business cards are available in many different shapes, and some are also magnets or stickers. Anyone could eventually become a client, so you should always keep some cards with you.
Use these tips to improve others’ perception of you. With a little effort, potential clients will want to work with you after a great first impression. Some may even become friends.